Our Team | Board of Directors

Our Team | Board of Directors

The team at Retrieving Independence is a dedicated and compassionate group of individuals who love and respect the unique learning capabilities of dogs and humans to assist each other when they come together in extraordinary relationships.

We share a common goal: to improve the lives of others.

  • All
    • All
    • Board of Directors
    • Volunteer Coordinator
    • Program Director
    • Counseling Coordinator
    • Training Director | Assistant Trainer
    • Fundraising Director
    • Veterinary Care

Shelly Steel

Board Chair

Shelly Steel joined Retrieving Independence in 2012 as a furlough volunteer and puppy raiser. In 2015, she took a leadership role with the Board and in January 2016 was voted Board Chair. For Shelly, it has been a life-changing experience.

Shelly is a Marriage and Family Therapist and has her private practice in Nashville.

Shelly Steel

Hayley Phipps, D.V.M.

Board Vice Chair | Veterinarian

Dr. Hayley Phipps joined the Retrieving Independence board and team in 2015. She is a Nashville native – born and raised! Dr. Phipps is a veterinarian at Belle Meade Animal Hospital and serves as a vet to all the RI dogs.

Dr. Phipps frequently treats the dogs in training, occasionally visits the dogs in prison to update vaccines, plus, she aims to enhance the Retrieving Independence breeding program.

Dr. Hayley Phipps

Stacy Paich

Board Treasurer

Stacy Paich joined the volunteer team at Retrieving Independence in 2014.

As Assistant Trainer & Volunteer Coordinator, Stacy helps conducts furlough family training, supports weekly inmate training at Turney Center and manages and organizes all facets of volunteer assistance for Retrieving Independence.

Beth Nagy

Board Secretary

Beth Nagy joined Retrieving Independence in 2012 as a furlough volunteer and puppy raiser. In 2015, Beth became an RI Board member-at-large and in 2016 moved into the Board Secretary role. Beth is also the Fundraising Director. Beth frequently tells her family and friends, “you’re my heart” to tell them she loves them – RI is “her heart”.

Beth Nagy

Dave Adams

Board Member

Dave Adams joined Retrieving Independence in 2011 as a volunteer and serves on the Retrieving Independence Board of Directors. He performs many tasks behind the scenes including helping to raise puppies for the Serving With Canines training program, filling the RI bus with gas in between trips to the Turney Center, fundraising, and supporting the organization whenever he is called upon.

Dave Adams

Lesley Adams

Board Member

Lesley Adams joined Retrieving Independence in 2011 as a volunteer to continue developing her skills with assistance dogs and supplement her prior experience in training dogs for general obedience work. She is one of the founding Board Members of Retrieving Independence.

As Program & Training Director, Lesley is responsible for the initiation of and continuing refinement of approaches, curricula and evaluations for dogs, and inmate trainers with Retrieving Independence.

Brenda Dew, Ph.D.

Board Member

Brenda Dew, Ph.D. joined the volunteer team of Retrieving Independence in 2012 after retiring as a Professor of Counseling. She is the Counseling Coordinator for Retrieving Independence and is responsible for developing and managing relationship assessments for the inmate trainers, applicants and caregivers. She also heads the Drill Team that showcases our service dogs and their training.

Debby Averette

Veterinary Coordinator

Debby Averette joined the volunteer team at Retrieving Independence in 2012. As the Veterinarian Coordinator for the service dogs in training at Turney Center, Debby manages emergency calls, inoculations and healthcare administered without a veterinarian, as well as oversees their veterinary care in Turney Center when necessary.